More than 150 years before former President Donald Trump was indicted, a sitting president, Ulysses S. Grant, was in trouble with the law.
Grant was an apparent speed demon with his horse and buggy. He was stopped by police in Washington for speeding several times, Cathy Lanier, chief of D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department told WTOP in 2012. Grant was taken into custody after he was caught racing his buggy on M Street.
“They ended up letting him pay a fine and walk back to the White House,” Lanier told WTOP.
The officer who stopped Grant in 1872 was William H. West, a former enslaved person and Civil War veteran, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund. West was one of two Black police officers to work for the police department in Washington at the time.
The officer spotted Grant speeding twice. The first time, West gave Grant a warning and sent him on his way. But West saw the president speeding again the very next day.
“I am very sorry, Mr. President, to have to do it, for you are the chief of the nation and I am nothing but a policeman, but duty is duty, sir, and I will have to place you under arrest,” West said, according to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
Grant was released on a $20 bond, now equivalent to around $430, after his arrest.
West continued his work as a police officer until his retirement in 1901. West and the arrest were featured in the Washington Evening Star on Sept. 27, 1908, seven years before his death.
“The General’s Love for Horses and His Pleasure in Driving Were the Cause of His Trouble,” the article notes about Grant.
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